Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Magic Rectangle Dress

The art of producing an illusion

There is no real magic in the Magic Rectangle Dress, but, it does give the illusion that it's much more than it is!!! In reality, it's just 2 long rectangles. There are no shoulder seams, just a seam down the front, and a seam down the back leaving an opening for the head. And then of course, side seams.

Much of my day was spent in old clothes. I am in the final stage of  getting my friend's house ready to turn over to the new owner. It has been quite the journey. More on that in another post :) After a day of hard work, I was rewarded with an evening out for dinner. And, as I've said, I am celebrating everything! If it's dinner out, I am dressing for the occasion!!! So, I pulled out this dress that I made 7 YEARS AGO!!! 

I so love this dress. I used a piece of vintage fabric that I had for years. I think it's from the 1940s. The fabric is so soft, and feels so good against the skin. The only issue is that it wrinkles easily, but hey, we can't have everything ;)

The "magic" of the dress lies in the gathered detail. The gathering gives shape over the bust, and that's what makes the dress look like so much more than it is.  

If you think that you would like to give this little idea a try, you can find my original post HERE. This is a piece that's great for summer, and will also work well in the winter in maybe a wool challis with a turtleneck. Hmmm, I think I will be making another ;)

If you give the dress a try, be sure to let me know! Just send me an email :)
Have a wonderful day! I hope a little magic comes your way :)


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Monday, August 10, 2020

Skulottes, Coverups, and Links

The start of a new week! I just got off the phone with a friend who called to ask if I saw what happened in downtown Chicago last night. I did. It looked like something out of a Mad Max movie. We talked about it, and then I told her to turn her television off. Not that we shouldn't be informed, but we don't need to hear the same story repeated time and time again. 

It seems that the world is a mess at the moment. In some respects, it is. But, there are also wonderful people doing incredible acts of charity. On Saturday evening, I had to go to the grocery store. As I was coming home, I encountered a type of street party. People were spaced apart, wearing masks, and on the front porch of a house, there was a band playing. What really caught my eye as I drove past was a tip jar. So many musicians are hurting. They NEED to play, they NEED to work. Seeing someone open up their front yard for a lovely summer evening concert, and offer a bit of normalcy for some who are hurting, absolutely heartwarming. Of course, this is but one small story. But, this is what I want to focus on, not crazy gang of looters, and thieves. For a time, they may be winning. But ultimately, they won't. History has taught us this time, and time again.

I have to apologize as I have been very slow about getting my 1 Year Challenge pictures up on the blog. I'm happy to report that I'm doing well. I haven't missed a day :) And the best part is that I am truly discovering what I actually have in my wardrobe. I know that may sound strange, after all, I made all of it, I know it's there. But, being so focused has brought about a clarity that absolutely delights me. 

Yesterday we finally had time to enjoy being on our boat. It was horribly hot out, so the boat was truly wonderful. What's better to wear on a boat than a bathing suit and a coverup?!!

I originally posted this coverup 9 years ago. Wow!!!          

Here is the coverup I made to go with my suit. The piece is so very easy to make. There are only 2 seams, and better yet, it's just a rectangle. You can find a link to the instructions HERE.  

I did do a video, but I am having a difficult time getting it to my computer. But, if you pop over to my Instagram account, you can see it. 

You may remember that I made this suit for a Sew News sew along. It's the Soma Swimsuit from Papercut Patterns

The big hit of the week was this piece that I did for my Fabulous Free Pattern Friday series. I called it a skulotte as it's a bit of a cross between a skirt and a culotte. You can find a link to the super simple instructions HERE. I also did a video that you can see on my Instagram page

I had this on when I went to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon, and the lady who checked me out commented 3 times on how lovely I looked. Made my day!!!

My wish for whoever drops by today is that you will be able to find joy in your day. Take a few minutes and look around at all that is good. And maybe...turn off whatever you use to obtain news. Just for today, give yourself a little break. 

Happy Sewing!!!

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Monday, August 3, 2020

What's Old is New Again

A few weeks ago, I had brunch with my mother and my brother. My brother is one that really appreciates fashion. Maybe it has something to do with growing up around me ;) He commented on how during the 20th century every decade was quite distinctive. One can tell just by looking that the style of the garment was from the 1920s, the 1940s, the 1970s, and so on. He said that since the turn of the 21st century, it seems that there is no longer a distinction between decades. I had not thought about it, but for the most part, I think he is right. 

I so enjoy a wonderful sewist, Pauline of Sew You Think You Can. She is so talented, and loves to look at designer pieces and figure out how to knock them off. Her creations are fabulous!!! Pauline recently came across a number of vintage patterns that she posted on Instagram. I was shocked when I saw the pattern below.

I bought this pattern when I was still in junior high!!! Obviously I have kept it all these years, along with many others. So, when I saw that Pauline had gotten the pattern, I sent her a note and told her that I have it too!!! 

Pauline and I have decided to pair up and make the pattern. She is doing the romper. I'm not exactly sure what I will do, but my heart is telling me to make the jumpsuit.

I came across this picture just this morning. It's almost the exact same style! I love all the piped seams. What's interesting is that Pauline had already said that she was going to make hers out of a gingham fabric. Do we have telepathy or what?!!

We are planning to meet again next Sunday via a zoom call and show each other our muslins. It's interesting the things you remember. I told Pauline that I remember the pattern being a little short in the crotch. When she pulled the pattern out of the envelope, she immediately saw that it IS short in the crotch. I will need to do a little grading up as I am not a size 10. But, all in all, it should be a fun project. We will start sharing once we have our muslins together.

Isn't the sewing community just the best?!!

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The 1 Year Challenge, So Far So Good

A friend recently posted a lamenting photo on Instagram with the Beatles' song, "Yesterday" attached. It was all about what we aren't able to do because of the pandemic. That simple little post prompted me to think about my summer, and as I thought about this summer versus last summer, it occurred to me that I am having a fabulous summer! Yes, I'll be the first to admit that I miss going to outdoor music festivals. We have some of the BEST here in Chicago. And all the glorious neighborhood festivals that we have every summer. But, as I thought about last summer, I realized that it was rather horrible. Two of the "highlights" were that I ended up with a case of shingles, and I had to say goodbye to my precious dog, Gracie.

This summer I am doing a lot of flying. I have been encouraged to get my flight instructor rating. I should be ready to take the first of a number of tests in 2 weeks. A little scary, but exciting at the same time. 

Believe it or not, my little challenge of doing a year of my handmade garments is another highlight. I am learning so much, and just having fun with the process.

I made this black and white linen dress last summer, but never wore it. I have no idea why because when I put it on, I loved it. Go figure! This project was part of a challenge I did with Becky of Trail Balloons . You can see my post on this dress HERE

Becky gave me this beautiful piece of fabric from Malaysia. Believe it or not, the pattern that I used for this dress is the exact same pattern as the black and white dress. I wore this on July 10th. It was blazing hot outside, so the cool, cotton fabric was perfect!

This was my Saturday dress. And NO!!!, I did not wear those shoes all day. I actually wore a pair of white sneakers. But, I just had to slip on the heels for the picture. I soooo miss wearing heels.

My friend Jill of The Denver Sewing Collective recommended the Vogue Vena Cava pattern. We were together when I purchased the fabric panels that I used for the dress. You can see my post on the dress HERE

I like trying to keep Sundays special. Here again, I did not wear those shoes all day long. A while, but not all day. This is a piece that I designed. The neckline has an asymmetrical drape. When I posted it on Instagram, I asked for opinions about whether to shorten it or not. The consensus was to leave it long. I have an idea of how I can shorten it, and leave it long at the same time. If it works, I'll post my idea :)  

You've seen this before, but the challenge is about a year of handmade garments, not a new garment everyday. The pants are the Barb pants from Style Arc, and the top is from Tessuti Fabrics, the free Zoe Top pattern

The next day was super casual, a pair of Helen's Closet Avery Leggings, and another free pattern from Tessuti, the Athina Top.

This dress was more like outfit of the evening, rather than outfit of the day. We met some friends for dinner, so here was my opportunity to wear those heels!!! This is another of my own designs. The fabric reminds me of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec. 

The following day, I was back out at the airport, so my favorite Closet Core Patterns Ginger Jeans, and another top of my design.  

This is another outfit of the evening. We met a friend for dinner, and here again, I am not going to miss an opportunity to wear heels!!! I am in love with this pattern. As you can see from the pattern picture, there's a fabulous gathered piece in the back. The dress literally floats about the body. This is on my list for at least 1 more, and maybe 2!!! It's Vogue 9237

Last Saturday was another blazing hot day. Makes me all the more grateful for air conditioning! Sadly, I don't think this pattern is still available. It was a free pattern from Marilla Walker, her sailor dress. I love the triangle insets on the shoulders, and there's a little square gusset at the armpit. Sweet little details.   

Once again, Sunday :) We went to an outdoor cocktail party. The picture shows the shoes I wanted to wear, versus the shoes I wore. Pumps are just not the best in a garden. The dress is the Nico Dress from Fabrics-store.com. Just a simple bias dress. I love the fabric. It was a piece that I purchased at a Nancy's Notions seminar a number of years ago.  

Monday was an incredible day! I ended up at a small airport outside of Indianapolis. I'm wearing another outfit that you've seen before, the Clover Pants from Colette Patterns

The best part was that I got to wear this too for a little while!!!

Last Tuesday, I pulled out a favorite skirt. This is another pattern that I don't think is available. I actually made this skirt 6 years ago!!! HERE'S the post I did on how I put it all together.  

I don't wear shorts very often. As you can see from my photos, I'm just more comfortable in a dress or skirt. But, every once in a while, a pair of shorts just seems to fit the bill. I had a lot of fun making these. I piped the yoke and the pockets, and then did a bias trim on the side seams. I also lengthened them to a walking short length. The pattern is from Dixie DIY, and the pattern is the Garnet Shorts.  

Earlier this week, I was going through a bin a things that I haven't looked at for a while, and I found the outfit below, all cut and ready to be sewn. I have no idea of how long it has been in the bin. So, I got busy and put it together. I think the pattern is now out of print, but there's always Ebay and Etsy! 

So, that's my fashion show for the last few weeks. My official start date was July 1st, but I decided to give myself a running start, and begin June 22nd. So, I'm a little over a month in at this point. It's a great challenge as it has made me focus more on what's in my wardrobe. I've gotten rid of a few pieces, and I'm much more focused on what I really want to add. I highly recommend giving it a try, even if it's just for a week. Do a private little challenge, and take pictures for a week, and see what you learn!

Until next time...
Sew On!!!

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday Night Reflections/Had It Not Been For You

A few days ago a friend called and told me that his cousin had just committed suicide. He hung himself. As my friend talked, I knew that what he was trying to do was find an explanation as to why he would do this. He said, "He was smarter than me! Not only was he an attorney, he was an accountant." It had been a number of years since I saw him, but I remember him as being quite intelligent, very attractive, and having a wonderful sense of humor. As my friend talked, my thoughts went back to a very dark time in my own life.

At the age of 23, I felt that I just could not go on. I saw absolutely no possibility of a future. I was able to get a hold of a bottle of pills that I knew would end my life. I sat down, and poured the pills out on the table. There were so many events that lead up to this moment, and each one seemed to be crushing in on me at that moment.

When I was only 15 years old, I gathered my meager savings, and purchased a ticket on a Greyhound bus in order to escape sexual abuse. I knew that if I could get to my grandparents, I would be safe. And so I rode, all alone for over 1200 miles. When the bus pulled into the station in my hometown, my grandparents were there waiting for me. They looked like angels. They had no idea of what I had been through, and I never told.

Five years later, I had married and found myself in a nightmare. He was extremely abusive. After the last beating, I knew that if I didn't get away, I would not be alive for very much longer. Once again, I found myself on the road in the middle of the night, headed to the safety of my grandmother. My bruises and my swollen face told her all she needed to know. Thankfully, I knew a wonderful couple who had connections with a woman who could help me. I went into hiding for a while. When I emerged, I tried to get a divorce, but at the time, in the state of Texas, I needed his consent. There would be no divorce as far as he was concerned. 

After a few years had passed, I decided that it would be best to move back to Chicago and be close to my mother. Before I made the move, I came to Chicago, found an apartment, and told the landlord that I would be back in two weeks to move in. What I didn't know is that he had sold the building, and left the city with my money. So, I had no apartment, and my money was gone. Welcome to Chicago. My timing could not have been worse. There was a horrible recession and jobs were quite scarce. Interview after interview resulted in nothing. One interviewer had even asked me why I would leave Houston where due to the oil industry, things were booming and come to Chicago. I wondered the same thing. 

With my money quickly disappearing, I had no idea what I could do, and to be honest, I was so very tired of fighting. So, I sat down with every intention of ending my life. As I picked up the first handful of pills, the phone rang. A company that I had interviewed with two weeks prior asked when I could start. There was my light, there was hope.

To say that the phone call ended everything for me would not be the truth. Depression was a constant companion for many years. I once asked my husband what he prays for when he kneels at church. He said, "I pray that you'll find peace." 

What I could not see on that day was that all of the good things of my life were just ahead of me. I was only weeks away from meeting my husband. I could not even imagine that I would one day learn to fly. That I would be able to host thirteen exchange students from all over the world. I had no idea that I would have the opportunity to fly over 500 inner city children and introduce them to aviation. I had no idea that my precious dogs would come into my life and love me so unconditionally. And the list goes on. 

When the COVID virus began to heat up here in the United States, three of my former exchange students called to see how I was doing. Each of them reminisced about their time with me. Two of them now have small children. They asked how old I was when they lived with me, and were shocked to here that I wasn't old enough to be their mother. They were all the more in awe of the fact that I was so much younger than they are now, and they are having difficulty with babies, while I dealt with teenagers. Each of them told me how grateful they were for the time they spent with me, as it had changed their life.

A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to experience a wonderful actor. In every play I saw him in, his talent just blew me away. But here he was in a very small town theater. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why he didn't venture out, he was so much better than where he was. I was told that he worked at Starbucks. So, one morning, I went in, ordered a cup of tea, and told him that I think he is an amazing actor and that he should be doing so much more than local theater. We actually became friends. During a conversation he told me that he was a big fish in a small pond. I said, "oh, you aren't even in a pond, you are in a puddle." A year later we met for coffee. He was so excited. He had left the small town theater, and moved on to a much larger company where there was great exposure, and had just won a very prestigious award. He said, "Rhonda, had it not been for you, this never would have happened."

When I hear of those who have been successful at committing suicide, I wonder why I was saved, why did that phone call come at that exact moment? Where was their phone call, why weren't they saved? Of course there is no answer. 

There are so many who are suffering at this moment in time. It seems that there is no end in sight. Will life ever be "normal" again? I will say this, once I was sexually abused, my life did not return to "normal." Once I experienced physical abuse at the hand of my ex-husband, my life never went back to what it had been before. But, it has become better. 

If by chance you are reading this and feeling that there is no hope, there is! Your life matters. My life has been of no great significance, but I am so grateful that in some small way I was there to make other lives a little better. I think that one of the greatest gifts of my life was to be told, "had it not been for you." There is someone waiting for you to make a difference. There are gifts that are waiting for you. I now believe that by the very fact that I am still here, my greatest days are still in front of me, and they are for you as well.      

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